Before this season began, Alexander Dawson boys tennis coach Kathy Benninghoff figured she might have the best team she’s had in her six years with the Mustangs.

With the season nearly over, that is proving to be true.

Dawson has just one dual match left (Friday against Machebeuf) and sports an 8-1 record in duals this fall. The Mustangs also won the Longmont Invitational last weekend.

The Mustangs’ loss was a 6-1 setback against perennial Class 4A power Colorado Academy.

As a team, Alexander Dawson is a remarkable 56-7 in dual matches and then went 18-6 at the Longmont Invitational. Aside from the loss to Colorado Academy, the only other match that wasn’t a 7-0 win was a 6-1 defeat of Windsor (the only loss for Windsor this season).

Leading the way, in terms of win-loss record, is No. 3 singles player Carson Smith. He is 12-0 this season, including a 3-0 march to the title at the Longmont Invitational.

No. 1 singles player Ryan Howarth (10-3) and No. 2 Ian Day (11-2) have been impressive, too.

Dawson’s No. 1 doubles team (Austen Smith and Ryan Smith) and No. 3 doubles team (Bruce Baker and George Jiang) also took first place at the Longmont Invitational. In fact, even with the tournament, the Mustangs have an impressive in 41-8 record in doubles play.

Next week, the Mustangs will go to Colorado Academy for the regional tournament and Benninghoff is hopeful of qualifying the entire team for the state tournament.

Looking back at the beginning of the season, it appears the Mustangs have met the expectations of their coach.

“Dawson is enjoying its best season in nearly a decade,” she said.

RUNNING AWAY: Several area running backs are having sensational seasons so far.

Niwot’s Dillon Manzanares has already rushed for 705 yards in four games. He has rushed for at least 152 yards in every game for the Cougars (1-3).

Frederick’s Dalton Hall hasn’t touched the ball as much as Manzanares has, but he’s got averaging an impressive 120 yards per game, thanks in large part to a 248-yard performance in Fridays’ 42-21 win over Erie. Hall has rushed for at least 84 yards in the last three games.

At Longmont, D.J. Fowler has 490 yards in total offense (352 rushing, 138 receiving) and 11 touchdowns. He’s averaging 8.9 yards every time he touches the ball.

Other backs, including Erie’s Ryne Atkins, Lyons’ Jordan Melani and Silver Creek’s Ian McNabb, could wind up flirting with the 1,000-yard mark this season.

EXTRA POINTS: In football, Erie’s Max Dixon (10 sacks) and Frederick’s KC Rivera (16.3 tackles per game) are wreaking havoc on defense. … The two best volleyball teams in the Class 4A Northern Conference — according to the standings, at least — will square off tonight when Longmont (10-2, 8-0 in league) hosts Thompson Valley (8-3, 7-1). … On Saturday morning, area cross country teams will compete in one of the best meets of the year in this region, the Pat Patten Invitational at Viele Lake in Boulder.

Brian Howell can be reached at